Nineteen Steps to Take and Seven Qualifying Questions to Ask to Make Sure That You Hire an Effective Service.
Most of the time, business owners are more expertly inclined to their product and brand rather than technical marketing. If you have a similar situation, you will need to hire a third party to do your digital marketing for you so that you can focus on more critical aspects of your business, like product development, operations, and expansion.
With marketing companies constantly putting up a front, promoting quality work backed up by reviews that are sometimes too good to be true, it would be reasonable for you to watch closely for red flags when looking for a potential partnership.
The marketplace for B2B providers that specialize in digital marketing services is huge, and thousands of agency websites tell you that they are the No.1 or “The Best”. So, you will have to dig deeper to know which one is telling you the truth – there can’t be more than one No.1.
It would be significantly easy if your sibling, cousin, or best friend is a marketing expert who owns an agency. However, for most people, that situation is not the case.
Often, you would have to scout and evaluate. So in this article, you’ll find all the advice that you need to find an eCommerce marketing agency you can trust.
While putting on some scepticism will help you avoid scams and low-quality work, there’s a straightforward way for you to get a shortlist of excellent services. However, you will still have to evaluate the resulting options somehow.
Use these NINETEEN steps to effectively find an agency you can trust.
- Have a clear vision of the goal you want an agency to achieve for you. Note where the service should start and end so that you can protect yourself from being manipulated into getting services you don’t want or need.
- List your objectives and set your demographics. For example, if you have a significantly localized product, you should opt for an agency within your community.
- Search the web using your objectives as keywords and take note of the top 3 agencies that match your needs the most. Then list their pros and cons.
- Find three to five trusted friends or colleagues who have tried working with an eCommerce marketing agency previously. Try consulting people who have a similar market to your business.
- Ask them about their agencies and gather their pros and cons.
- Make sure that you take note if at least two of your contacts mention the same agency and make marks if any of them are already on your pre-established list.
- Cross out any agency most often talked negatively about.
- Make your own assessment. You can look at review sites but beware of those that let agencies pay for additional promotions.
- Finalize a three-item list.
- Research their websites and see who among them can best meet your needs – look at case studies for businesses like yours. Reliable agencies have websites that will not play their expert card and confuse you with hifalutin jargon
- Remember that a marketing agency is also an eCommerce business. So you have to see if their eCommerce website is excellent – a lousy website is a gigantic red flag.
- Look into their reviews on Google, look at their videos and other media, and see if they have reputable PR. You’ll quickly see if the releases are plastic or overly manufactured.
- Watch out for reviews that are clearly fake. Some agencies use non-real-client accounts to provide good reviews for themselves and bad reviews for their competitors.
- Have an introductory meeting with the agencies to get a feel of their communication, assessing how you feel about it. You’ll quickly know when someone is treating you like a statistic or is simply patronizing you. Look for sincerity.
- Ask the right questions during the primary meeting and tally the answers you want to hear. We will dive into more about these qualifying criteria questions later.
- Make a soft decision and consult your friends and colleagues again if you feel the need. If you are well-decided, then skip and proceed to the next step.
- Call the agency and request for a secondary discovery meeting where you can ask additional questions to ensure that the reasons why you chose the company are accurate. While most agencies seem to allow only one primary engagement, they will extend time in the name of customer service – an extra hour or two for a chance at a new paying customer is worth it in their book.
- If all goes well, sign the contract.
- Let the agency show you proof of quality and result via their work on your project before considering suggestions for additional services. Wait at least two or three months before giving complete trust.
You can add more steps if you want or dismiss some of them whenever you feel like you are already on the right track, even without finishing the list. Nevertheless, these suggestions are excellent, especially if you are significantly sceptical and having second thoughts on hiring service in the first place.
SEVEN Questions to Help You Assess an eCommerce Marketing Agency.
- Do you focus on local or global markets?
- What do you think about my business market?
- Do you specialize in CRO, emails, SEO, or all digital marketing strategies?
- How do you do your reporting?
- Can I meet your team?
- Can you talk about businesses like mine that you have serviced?
- What are your fee arrangements?
Question No. 1: Do you focus on local or global markets?
The correct answer for this question depends on the market focus of your business.
If you have a niche product that targets local markets and audiences, you will benefit most from a marketing agency that operates in your chosen area. For a locality-focused business, you will need an expert in the local market’s culture, society, and financial profile.
Let’s compare this to divemasters or scuba diving experts. No matter how well-travelled you are, having dived in many spots around the world, you will never exceed the mastery of a local guide and his or her long-explored local spot.
Even for global market agencies, you will usually find an agency focusing on a specific region or a particular language. While international marketing agencies have a broader scope, they will still have some limitations.
Take McDonald’s, for example. It is a genuinely global-scale operation. The fast-food giant does not have an entirely centralized marketing and product development strategy but has local entities handling projects in each country.
You cannot expect their Philippine marketing team to be effective in the UK and vice versa. McDonald’s in The Philippines promotes viand and rice family meals, while in the UK, you have an English breakfast culture.
You will have to go for the same strategy if, like McDonald’s, you are genuinely operating without international borders. However, you also probably are someone focused on a particular region, albeit a global one.
Most probably, you target major English-speaking, somewhat similar commercially cultured countries like the US, UK, Canada, and Australia. If so, hire a marketing agency that can cater to such a scope.
The key here is matching your scope with an agency.
Question No. 2: What do you think about my business market?
An agency will list business markets they are best suited for and if your niche is one of them, give it another point. However, remember that there is rarely a marketing agency that will be significantly focused on an exclusive business market.
No single marketing agency will tell you, “we specialize in ice cream businesses only.” Mostly, they will cover a more general business type like retail, manufacturing, wholesale, or service.
And, most marketing agencies will cover all business types, and you will less likely find a company that focuses only on one of them.
Hence, you should find out how well-versed an agency is about your type of business. Ask them what they think will be an excellent strategy for your eCommerce.
See if the agency can speak the language of your enterprise. If so, you can say that they have enough knowledge to potentially work with you.
Question No. 3: Do you specialize in CRO, emails, SEO, or all digital marketing strategies?
There are marketing agencies that specialize in one aspect of digital marketing. Some are SEO companies, and others are CRO agencies or exclusively email managers.
Match their speciality with your goals. Whoever does what you need is usually the agency you want.
However, it would be best to remember that you will not get the revenue you need from only one marketing strategy service. Unless you can cover the rest of what the agency can’t provide, you will need all services, including CRO, SEO, email marketing, PR, and more, if you are to stand out in the competition.
Always remember that all marketing strategies have principles and methodologies that overlap each other. For example, you don’t want an agency working on your CRO without the hindsight of SEO and email marketing because a beautiful site with no leads is useless.
Question No. 4: How do you do your reporting?
More than a question of tracking and monitoring tools, this is to test the transparency of the agency. When the person you are talking to is beating around the bush, that’s a red flag.
You want someone who will directly show you the tools they will use and promptly divulge the frequency and form of their communication and reporting.
You don’t want someone explaining to you how chat and video conferencing work.
You want someone telling you, for example, that they will use tracking tool X that you can check up on any time you want and that you will have N number of reports every week and N number of summaries and analyses every month.
The agency should also make clear what they will do if they miss a promised deadline or what they will do if they do not show the guaranteed increase when the contract’s duration ends.
You want a direct and clear answer.
Question No. 5: Can I meet your team?
You want to know if the agency has the workforce it claims to have.
Suppose the agency is confident about its team and expertise. “Yes” and “when would you like to meet them?” would easily be their answers. Otherwise, sniff around a little more.
There might be some “agencies” or “marketing teams” that are genuinely merely two not-eCommerce-expert people. They will get your requirements done by entirely outsourcing the work to freelancers or a different agency, serving as intermediaries unlike what they claim.
It is not that there is anything wrong with an agency using third parties. In fact, a marketing agency that has a mix of in-house experts and outsourced personnel will often have the perfect checks and balances in place.
What you want to do is hire people who care about eCommerce and operate with a real marketing team while entirely avoiding con artists.
Question No. 6: Can you talk about businesses like mine that you have serviced?
Listen to what they say and assess if they know what they are talking about.
It will be straightforward to know if they are bluffing about servicing a business similar to yours. You’ll know if they are juggling general eCommerce terminologies and are missing plenty of your industry-related terms and processes.
Take note that it is reasonably simple to generalize retail businesses, so ask if they have been outsourced by someone who dealt with a very similar product to yours. Most agencies will try to impress you by saying yes, whether or not they indeed did.
See if they are lying to you just to get your money. And only go for someone who isn’t.
If they are willing to lie to you before the establishment of a relationship, what else can you expect when things get rocky?
Question No. 7: What are your fee arrangements?
Some agencies charge hourly fees, a monthly retainer, or a per-project fixed payment. Others offer a no result, no payment option or a pay-per-result.
Here are the pros and cons of the most common agency pricing models.
- Simple method
- Reasonable for you as the client
- Potentially excellent for a project that involves a significant amount of problem-solving
- Difficult to scale
- Zero incentive to motivate fast or hard work
- Agency can slow results to get more money
Agencies offer hourly rates if they find that you have a tendency to change your mind or ask for many edits or revisions because it protects them from scope creep. Please keep a close eye on because this is also a preferred model by beginner agencies who have no idea how long or fast they can finish a project.
- More accessible to scale than per hour
- No added costs even if the project takes longer, so the agency has to work fast
- Agencies compensate by putting up higher premiums
Per-project payment is usually offered by agencies specializing in a particular kind of project that can have an accurate estimated completion date.
- Easy to budget, scale, and account
- Duration of work or deliverables is controlled
- You get what you pay for or not pay for what you don’t get.
- Higher premiums
Go for this only when you have established an excellent relationship with an agency and know that the results will be completed and on time.
Whatever the pricing model, you should be able to get a direct and clear answer with all contingencies addressed.
Get the perfect agency for your eCommerce business!
Now, you know some excellent tips and vital information to help you figure out how to find an eCommerce marketing agency that will help you grow your business. So start scouring the market and find the perfect partner with an excellent track record, reputation, and work ethic.
If you don’t know where to start, you can talk to us, and we can help you find what you need.
Why do I need an eCommerce marketing agency?
Handling the operations, human resources, production, and other aspects of a business will already take plenty of time and effort.
If you add to your list all the technical work of CRO, SEO, email marketing, PPC, PR, and other digital marketing needs, you might stretch yourself too thin and lose quality on everything you do.
Is digital marketing difficult?
While it may seem straightforward to improve a website, run a newsletter campaign, or pay for internet ads, there’s a lot of marketing research that has to be done.
In order to make sure that your marketing campaigns work, you need to do in-depth market analysis that takes time and expertise.
Freelancer vs marketing team – what’s better?
With a team like KAMG on your side, you will be able to ensure that you have senior marketing specialists with who you can leave the job with. And with KAMG, you don’t need to do anything but wait for your campaigns to work.
On the other hand, when you get a freelancer to do your marketing, you’ll have one person doing the job. And you will still have to do close management of the hired freelancer if you want the job done right.
Freelancers are usually stretched too thin with many clients on their list.